by Seif Sharif Hamad
Published in Vodaworld magazine
On June 27, I was endorsed by the delegates to the National Conference of the Civic United Front (CUF) with a resounding 98 per cent votes to be the party’s flag bearer in this year’s Zanzibar presidential election.
I look forward to participating in this election which I believe will be different from all the elections that have been held since our country re-introduced multi-party system 18 years ago.
I believe this year’s election will be one of peace and hope. The new political rapprochement that has ushered into reconciliation (Maridhiano) that I and President Amani Karume initiated last year and that President Jakaya Kikwete has supported courageously has created an unprecedented opportunity to create a government of national unity in Zanzibar.
CUF has always supported the idea of a government of national unity as it realizes that without the unity of the major elements that form the Zanzibari society there will be no peace to concentrate on important issues of meaningful and sustainable development. I am prepared to work with the CCM candidate in a government of national unity to build a new Zanzibar. I believe the same spirit of dialogue and mutual respect that has led us to internal reconciliation in Zanzibar can be employed to make our Union much stronger and viable for the benefit of the people from both sides of the Republic.
But what is my vision for Zanzibar?
My vision for a future Zanzibar is one where there is unity , yet people will have their own poltical convictions and feel free to express themselves. We will have unity in diversity; everyone will be proud to be a Zanzibari, regardless of his or her ethnic backround or religion. We must heal the scars of history by not allowing any discrimination and by ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all. All of us should promote the idea that all Zanzibaris are united by a common history and destiny. We need a harmonious and tolerant society, in which democracy and mutual respect are well established.
My vision is also to see Zanzibar returning to its rightful position as a tolerant and open society, and a permanent centre of teaching and learning in East and Central Africa. This will have to mean a much greater investment in education, both knowledge and ethical/character education, as a way to construct a knowledge and ethical society that will at once and the same time attract international missions, trade and investments, and employment as an antidote to the politics of hatred and divisions that engulfed our islands for over 50 years.
Our next serious challenge is the economy – how to make a living for our people? I want to see a Zanzibar that is economically developed, where all have employment and can afford the essential of life. CUF is a liberal party and we believe socially inclusive free market policies will serve well a natural entrepreneurial society that Zanzibar is and has always been.
Ours is essentially an agricultural society and relies heavily on the export of cloves, a monoculture which is very vulnerable to price fluctuations. CUF intends to privatize the clove industry and encourage the local production of food especially those items that can be grown locally. There is an obvious need to modernize our agricultural sector and not to rely on rainfall alone for cultivation especially when it comes to food security, an essential component of any autonomous society.
After modernizing the not too productive backbone of our society, i.e. agriculture, I would like to see the government invest heavily in the twin and related areas of education and development. We consider trade, tourism and manufacturing as the three vital sectors that can create new wealth for the new Zanzibar.
Zanzibar was the most prosperous trading centre in East Africa. CUF supports free international trade and foreign investment. We would like to build a free trade zone in Zanzibar. We also need to encourage sustainable use of marine resources. Our people are entrepreneurial and will prosper if we enable free trade without corruption.
If I will be elected, government of national unity that I will lead would be ready to invest resources in intellectual pursuits and human resources development to ensure high quality of intellectual and professional recruitment and retention of staff in relevant institutions. The greatest wealth of Zanzibar is its diaspora of highly educated and skilled Zanzibaris who are serving different societies on the globe except their own. A new Zanzibar under government of national unity will naturally welcome home our brothers and sisters who have lived in exile and encourage them to contribute to our society.
We will work very closely with forward looking international organizations such as the World Bank, the UN local entrepreneurship initiative, the WHO malaria eradication project, and the United Nations Development Program to initiate a Zanzibar Human Development Report which we will use as our human development guide in planning our ministries for sustainable development.
A strong and vibrant economy that we intend to build should help us to see well equipped hospitals, clean and safe water for everyone, electricity in every household, reliable and cheap communications, and a road network that is passable all year round.
But our new economic policy will not succeed without the key of cultural change that will deliver positive results in the area of work ethics and winning back the primary allegiance of our employees. Special programme must be designed and implemented to make our civil servants models when it comes to professionalism, accountability, discipline and result-oriented work ethics.
This is my vision and mission for a new Zanzibar.